Like swimming and running, cycling training sessions are broken down based on duration and intensity. The three main training sessions include easy / recovery day, higher intensity day, and longer aerobic day.
1. Easy recovery days:
As the name implies, the purpose of these rides is to recover and absorb the harder training while, at the same time, maintain your cycling specific movements/ muscles. While the intensity of these rides might creep up to the middle of zone 2, they should be kept in Zone 1. Don’t underestimate the extreme importance of these easy rides.
2. Higher Intensity Days
This is your quality ride each week. The intensity will depend on the phase / period (base, pre-competitive, competitive) that your training is in. All quality sessions include a warm-up, a main set , and a cool-down. Intensity sessions during the base and pre-competitive phase will also include drills / technique work. These sessions should be performed at the prescribed intensities (that will range from high zone 2 through zone 5) in order to derive maximum conditioning benefits from your training.
3. Longer Aerobic Days:
While the intensity of these sessions could be confused with easy recovery days, the duration is significantly longer. The purpose of this session is geared to the development of the aerobic energy systems. Basically you are trying to establish the plumbing (capillaries/ mitochondria) and cycling specific joint / muscular strength that will enable you to handle the stresses of the pre-competitive and competitive phases. Intensity ranges zone 1-3.
Intensity Workout Terminology
Sample workout with drills
WU: 15’ include 4x 40” SLD, RI: 20” both legs,
MS: 3x 5’ Big Gear Intervals at zone 2 as: 2 min in big gear < 80 RPM/ 1 min in smaller gear >100RPM/ 2 min back in big gear < 80 RPM, RI: 2’ 4x 30 sec fast spin, RI 30”
CD: 10 min
The flow of the workout (what it means in English):
After warming up for 15 minutes, roll right into the single leg drills. 4x 40”, RI 20” both legs,” means you will spin with one leg for 40 seconds, 20 seconds with both legs, then 40 seconds with the other leg followed by 20 seconds with both legs again. This is one repetition (1x 40 sec on each leg). 3x 5 min Big Gear Intervals at zone 2 as: 2 min in big gear < 80 RPM/ 1 min in smaller gear >100RPM/ 2 min back in big gear < 80 RPM, RI: 2’ entails 3 sets of 5 minute as follows: the first two minutes are in a bigger gear (higher resistance) at a slower leg turnover (less than 80 RPM – rotations per minute) followed by 1 min in smaller gear (lower resistance) at a faster leg turnover (greater than 100 RPM), and then back into a bigger gear (the same as the first two minutes). Throughout the entire five minute effort your power/heart rate should stay in zone 2. After each 5 min effort you have a two minute recovery in which you should keep pedaling at a cadence of 80-100 RPM but with lower resistance allowing your heart rate to recover down into zone 1. 4x 30” fast spin, RI: 30” means 30 seconds of fast spinning in a smaller gear with low resistance while keeping the RPM’s as high as possible while maintaining smooth pedaling (no bouncing butts). The 30 seconds recovery is back down into a normal RPM of 80- 100. Finish the session with 10-15 min of easy spinning at your own pace.
These drills are exactly as they sound. The goal of this drill is to make your pedal stroke more efficient. In order to do this, we need to isolate each leg while remaining in a normal riding position (no leaning sideways or funky postures!). Try to make sure that the footrest (options include: used milk crates, waste baskets turned upside down, tied stacks of newspaper, or simply resting your foot behind you on your trainer’s mounting brackets – without catching your feet in the spokes or fan blades) on either side of your bicycle is at least bottom bracket high and out of the crank/pedal rotational path. When working one leg, try to be smooth, feel the entire circle of the pedal stroke, and try to keep your rpm’s above 80-90. Maintain the position you race in and note the difference in power when sitting up (torso-femur angle open) compared to when in your aero position (torso-femur angle more closed). This may indicate what might be a faster, more powerful, and more comfortable (but, perhaps, not as “aero”) position. Initially, you will likely use your smallest (easiest) gear for single leg drills but, as you consistently practice this drill over time, you will improve to the point of using bigger gears and/ or sustaining the drill for a longer period of time. The main point to remember is to be as smooth as possible Pedal in circles, not square
Big Gear Intervals:
As the name implies, these intervals are performed in a big gear at lower RPM’s than normal. This is like strength training on the bike. It teaches you to efficiently push a bigger gear, thus developing strength that will help you with time trialing and seated climbing. Stay seated and work the entire circle of the pedal stroke. Many cyclists feel they can generate more power when sliding slightly toward the rear of the saddle. Experiment with different positions on the saddle. Most big gear intervals are performed in high zone 2 to low zone 3 (these are not anaerobic threshold workouts).
Fast Spinning Drills:
Higher than normal RPM intervals teach your cycling muscles to fire at a higher than normal rate. This will translate into greater economy at your normal cadence and make harder or faster riding less stressful. After performing spinning drills at 120+ RPM”s a cadence of 90-100 feels effortless and makes you efficient at a wider range of pedaling cadences. Spinning drills should be performed in your smaller gears with little resistance. Maintaining even pressure on the pedal at higher RPM’s and low resistance develops fine neuromuscular motor control. Follow each effort with easy spinning at a comfortable cadence. Since the goal of these drills is efficiency and economy, you don’t need to worry about your heart rate. It may go up briefly, but due to the short duration the effort will be alactate (very little lactic acid will be produced).
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